The archetypes in leadership...

The archetypes in leadership...


I keep using this phrase with clients recently, male and female and in many different positions and organisations. 

So, whilst there is an element of working out my projections, I really think it is of great importance to know it. 

Leadership is complex – how do you categorise or analyse leadership? And how do you work out how to ‘do it right’?

Firstly we are all human. Cut yourself some slack and allow yourself to build your leadership with the right energies internally and externally. 

I really want you think about leadership as a team effort. How do you gather a team, a posse, a network (of support perhaps) that creates strength, a solidness – a balance?

The greatest leaders I have worked with have a network of people in key places (at their table) who guide them, rally them, cajole them and tell them when they are being downright ridiculous. 


Introducing Archetypes

Archetype definition : a recurrent symbol or motif in literature, art, or mythology.

(in Jungian theory) a primitive mental image inherited from the earliest human ancestors, and supposed to be present in the collective unconscious.

Archetypal work has been prevalent in psychology mainly through the work of Carl Jung. Archetypes come through in Myers Briggs and other similar psychological profiling tool. 

We live in a world of archetypes. And as Carl Jung said – we require them – they help us navigate through the world. Even the stories we have are similar – they are archetypal in their way.

For a fast track route into archetypal knowledge watch Star wars. 

The movie? – why, yes. 

George Lucas fashioned the movies on the similarity of the book by Joseph Campbell: “The Heroes journey”. 

Campbell was heavily influenced by the Swiss Psychiatrist Jung.  

Star Wars is littered with the archetypes we hold in every day life. 


Think about the: 

Heroes – these are usually the central figures in the stories – enter Luke Skywalker. 

Mentors – this will either be the Heroes guide (think Obi Wan Kenobi) or the heroes guiding principles. 

Allies- people who help the hero through the quest – enter the handsome Hans Solo

Herald – the one who brings the call to adventure – this could be a person or an event. (Lukes death of his aunt) 


We all, as leaders, know the heroes in our life’s. Those people that we know to have charged us with their energy. 

We can look back on our career and spot the ‘Heralds’ – the time that rearranged our values priorities, strengthened our beliefs and pushed us to be more of what we are.  

I think fondly of the mentors in my life – oddly, some of which I did not realise were mentors at the time. I wonder if they did? 


The different archetypes

There are many articles regarding Archetypes (see references at back of book) and there are discussions of many male and female archetypes. 

It is good to be aware of and to consciously develop them in their positive manifestations than to deny, ignore or repress them and let their shadow forms unconsciously take over. 


“ A universal pattern of behaviours that, once discovered, helps people better understand themselves & others” 

Carl Jung 


They are power centres, that are hard wired in the psyche of every human being whether male or female, that largely control, or at least provide channels for our thought, speech and behaviour (Moore & Gilette 1990). 

I am going to keep it super simple (and to those from a deep rooted psychological background I do recognise that this may seem overly simplified). 

With the work that I have seen working with Jim McNeish at Cantle (and laterally Neish) I shall break this down into the 4 archetypes of:

The King/Queen

The Warrior

The Lover &

The Wizard


These four archetypes serve as intuitive short cuts into clusters of virtues and the specific ethos associated with each of them.


The noble King/queen archetype could be best represented in a boss or a mentor. The supportive Lover archetype could be in your team members, your friends. 

The supercharged Warrior could be in peers or certain functions in the organisations. 

The intuitive Wizard could be a coach or a mentor. 

(NB. The four female archetypes have been describes as the Faerie, the Wise one, the Lover and the Queen. Effectively, looking at the above 4 will enable an insight for leadership). 

Lets go through them each of them in turn. As you read think of who you know that channels these energies. 

Pay particular attention to those that may be missing from your life. 



The noble king is concerned for the welfare of all those below him. 

We need the regal energy in our life to present us with boundaries, permission and presents us with the bigger picture. This person brings a sense of order and has clarity about the vision and relentlessly pursues it.  There are no favourites in the ‘kingdom’ – everyone feels protected and secured. Genuine achievement is rewarded and is keen on developing the talents in the realm. 

A healthy king = a healthy kingdom

If this is missing in your life you can feel ‘boundless’, perhaps unclear. I have worked with a particular organisation recently who are lacking in this energy – throughout the organisation. The team feel boundless, there is uncertainty of vision and a lack of clarity and accountability – they are missing the (healthy) visionary leader of the kingdom. 

Often if this energy exists in the shadow form it can seem fearful and suspicious and can often be condescending to “subordinates”. Think “off with their heads” – the ruthless leader can intimidate others. 




The warrior is courage. This person demonstrates self control and discipline and are certainly not afraid to take risks. 

You know when you have had a meeting with  a “warrior”. You feel energised – challenged beyond compare – but energised!
There is a strong sense of awareness that sits with the warrior – in that nothing escapes their attention. They seem hyper alert. They demonstrate great loyalty to a cause – someone with a lot of this archetypal energy within is your great “number 2”. 

So the king sets the boundaries and the warrior defends.  They get things done and pretty much do whatever is necessary to complete the task. 

The warrior leaders can often appear lacking in compassion – this is their ability to emotionally detach to demonstrate their loyalty to the ‘greater good’ – the higher purpose. 

In its shadow form we have a cruel and merciless sadist. They can appear possessed by the winning and compromise ethical and ‘normal human’ principles. 

This dark side is represented in a true dualistic way of thining – very black and white. 

•good and bad, winners and losers and the classic ‘us and them’. 



The ever sensitive and vulnerable ‘lover’ is very forgiving and is your number one supporter. They are elegantly adept at keeping the king/warrior and magician on a healthy track and preventing them moving into their shadow selves. 

The healthy leader holding this energy is passionate and ecstatic – they bring a real sense of aliveness to the party. They are creative, imaginative and really want to connect with everyone. 

Their senses seem to be on hyper alert and they are tuned into the sensitivities’ of others and really want everyone to notice what the organisaiton can do for everyone. 

They are seekers – gathering knowledge and evaluating all the time. 

The shadow form of the lover is someone who does not know when to draw the line and can demonstrate jealously and rage. Very focused on ensuring the attention is on them they can never get enough attention especially as there are no boundaries. 

You can feel a sense of lostness. 



Your’e a wizard Harry...

Herein lies the magic.  The wizard relies on instinct, intuition and is a sponge for learning. There is a depth of thought and reflection that exists within the wizard, the magic is in -their work is their life not a job.  

They are great at asking the questions that cause us to think, the ones that get us forming new thought patterns and insights. 

Specifically in ancient tribes, the wizard/shaman/medicine doctor was next to the chief of the tribe in terms of power – they demonstrated great power in aligning themselves with the King.

The wizard thinks in traditions and rituals and is graceful in channeling their energy without ego. 

The shadow is manipulative. They can lie and distort the truth and more importantly withhold information as consumed by greed. 

They can condone deceptive advertising or communication about what the company is doing and this can be so confusing to witness. 


“through others, we become ourselves”


Set the table…


And now, lets set the table. Think about having all the places filled. 

As leaders, it is important for us to have ‘all the spaces filled’. 

As you read through, were there certain elements that you thought to be missing?

Or did you see or feel the shadow form coming through for some? If so – what could be causing this?

When we have these archetypes in our life, in our business there is a strength that we work from. All I can say is it feels solid. 

Think of it like having an entourage, a posse. They protect you, they guide you, they challenge you, they grow you. 


Protection, guided, challenged, growth.

If you feel boundless, lacking in clarity then perhaps you could find yourself disconnected from your boss? Could you seek out a mentor? 

If you know the energy, the challenge, the courage is lacking, perhaps a hunt for a warrior to help guide you into battle? 

Or you feel you need support, to really understand what the organisation offers, a heartfelt sense – then perhaps connecting with more colleagues or friends in this instance will readdress the balance. 

Maybe there is a need for you to be thinking on your development, for assisting you in alternative thinking – a coach or a guide maybe required. 

As leaders we need support. We need to be able to “call on” certain Strengths within others and ask certain questions that will take us to a greater sense of reality. 


Who are you seeking out? Who are you asking? 


Who is at your table? 

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